Talking Tickets 12 February 2021: Super Bowl Ratings! FC Copenhagen! Newcastle and Leeds! Arts Marketing! And, More!

Year 2 Number 20!

Hey y’all!

Thanks for being here. I can say that y’all sharing this newsletter and supporting the ideas has helped us reach our biggest audience yet last week.

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Happy Hour tonight, 5 PM Eastern with me, Matt Wolff, and Ken Troupe.

Join the Slack Channel for the newsletter and meet folks from around the world.

I’m running two polls on LinkedIn this week to find out what two topics to create mini-courses for over the next few weeks: one in the arts and one in the sports world. So if you’d take two seconds and vote, boom!

The secondary market I’ll come back to later. I’m working on something there.

To the Tickets!


1. The Super Bowl had the lowest ratings since 2006:

We were watching the Super Bowl ticket prices for the last few weeks and the game wasn’t that hot from a ticket selling point of view. I also used the Google trends data to see where the Super Bowl this year was tracking in search data versus previous years and it was down about 80% over a normal year.

Which is understandable considering what the country is dealing with.

91 million people watching one thing at one time is still pretty amazing, no matter which way you spin it.

But it does highlight the need to rethink your strategy for selling into the market once the pandemic ends and crowds can gather and tickets can be sold because you can’t assume that demand is just going to be the same as it always was or that the market is going to look and act the way it always did.

I’ve been working with the ALSD on a series of pieces about recovery in sports business and last Friday we released the first piece with a focus on repositioning your business once the pandemic is over.

In the piece, we focus on the 3 Cs of marketing:

  • Customer

  • Competition

  • Company

What does the customer want?

How are you better than your competition?

What can your company deliver right now that is of exceptional value?

The Super Bowl prices eventually dropped to $4899 on TicketIQ just before kick-off. The winners of our unscientific contest were Natan Edelman who guessed the low number and Corey Gibbs who came closest at kick-off.

So congratulations to those guys!

Jesse Lawrence from TicketIQ wrote up a piece that explained the Super Bowl tickets in the context of what was happening in the market over the last few years that gives some good context to the prices.

Back to the game and what this means, there has been a lot of research that says that folks aren’t really willing to leave their houses right now until the pandemic is under control and there is a vaccine that is widely distributed. So having sluggish ticket sales is totally understandable.

The combination of lower ratings, sluggish ticket sales where events can happen, changing habits and trends before the pandemic, and all of the issues that are likely to accompany reopening the economy fully like economic issues, lingering health issues, and mental health issues that may not fully be seen until we get out of this…it points to the need to make sure that our business models are tight, our strategies are focused and effective, and that we are flexible in dealing with the environment we find ourselves in.

Because I think just assuming things are going to be “normal” anytime soon is dangerous!

2. Newcastle, Leeds, and BRANDS!:

I’ll tell you a little secret about how I keep up with this stuff every week, Flipboard and Twitter, along with your emails.

But the New York Times does a nice job with their soccer coverage. Which makes not missing something like this easier.

The article talks about the playing styles of Leeds and Newscastle and their coaches. You could easily name a number of coaches that bring an identifiable “brand” with them to the sports they coach and you probably even attach a name to their vision, let’s try this:

  • Jose Mourinho: Park the Bus

  • Nick Saban: The Process

  • John Thompson: Intimidating

  • Jock McHale: Cerebral and motivational (Look him up)

  • Pat Summitt: The Summitt Stare

We could go on and on, and you likely have your own version of this practice, but the key is that you know what the team you are going to compete against is going to bring to the game.

That’s branding.

Do the same thing with a few of your favorite products and if I ask you to share your description, we will have a consensus:

  • Apple

  • Tesla

  • Starbucks

Brand matters, but it also gets layered in a lot of BS because there are a lot of folks talking about brands and branding in a way that makes it come off like complete garbage.

For our purposes: a brand is the accumulation of all the interactions, positive and negative, someone has with us combined with our ability to stamp 2 or 3 key ideas into our market’s head so that when they think of us, they think of those ideas.

I want y’all to think about this because in a lot of places, companies have given up on the value of their brand or they’ve allowed themselves to fall into the commodity trap and have their brand consumed as they support someone else’s business.

On the other side of the pandemic, the need to stand out is going to be more important than ever.

One of my favorite stories about tickets and the power of branding is the story from the Mayweather v. Pacquiao fight when Floyd Mayweather sent out a post on Instagram, plugging Las Vegas Tickets and Ken Solky.

This is amazing from a branding point of view because it does two things that enforce Ken’s brand on the mind of potential customers and customers:

  • Ken is connected!

  • Ken is the go-to resource in Las Vegas, so much that he is getting a shoutout from Floyd Mayweather.

When we think about branding and brand articulation, which is just the process of stamping the ideas on our customers that we want them to think of, Ken nailed it here.

Melissa Proctor, CMO of the Atlanta Hawks, illustrates the power of branding and market orientation to help you get focused on creating a map of your market, targeting the right audience, and positioning accordingly.

Here is what is important to y’all, no matter where or what part of the industry you fall into your brand needs to be distinct in some way.

In my mind, there is no such thing as a commodity if you do the work. You can always add some value to what you are doing so that you can control a bit of the relationship between buyer and seller.

Right now is a good time to think through how you want to be distinct going forward. To go back about two weeks to Professor Roger Martin’s two questions:

  • Where will you compete?

  • How will you win?

As for me, my brand articulation this year is to stamp the idea that your marketing and strategy need to be focused, effective, and profitable.

How am I doing?

3. FC Copenhagen and Carlsberg have created a new partnership and they point us to some key lessons:

You can translate the copy from LinkedIn easily enough, but the reason I’m highlighting this one today is that it highlights the power of partnerships, co-branding, and expanding your market.

Brian Morrissey wrote about only needing three examples of something to show up for you to call it a trend in media. So I am stealing that idea this morning to make my point that in sports, I’ve heard it said far too often that the teams are often looking for a partner to cut them a big check and help them find their audience at the same time. I’ve heard it at least three times in the past year, so I’m calling it a trend.

Co-branding is a wonderful thing in the way that when two organizations come together, the good comes along for the ride and the bad goes away.

In following the work that Jacob Lauesen is doing with his team at FC Copenhagen, I’ve always admired the work they’ve managed to do to use the tools available to them to drive new revenues, uncover new fans, and grow their audience to the point that they made themselves a valuable partner and one that could fully realize the impact of co-branding to build two businesses and open new audiences at once.

You have this one with Carlsberg, but you can also look at the work they’ve done with Adidas and many other organizations.

I’ve been pretty lucky to be a part of some really great partnerships over the years and it has helped me reach new people and audiences that I might have struggled to reach, along with the companies I worked for, and the partners we worked with like AmEx, Yellow Tail Wines, Coca-Cola, Nike, and others.

As we move through the pandemic, co-branding and effective partnership is going to be one key ingredient in getting things up and running and going again.

How do you do this effectively?

First, focus on what you uniquely bring to the partnership. Is it a different segment? Different core competencies? What is it?

Second, use the power of positioning to highlight the power of working together, but also shows how the combination of your two brands is more powerful than the alternatives people might see in the market.

Third, highlight how you are combining your core competencies to add value to everyone involved in the partnership. (I’ve been trying to find a way to not use this word, but okay..synergies!)

The key here is that if you are in the primary market or the secondary market, a tech partner, a consultant, or something else: you need to add value to the relationship. You don’t do that by racing to the bottom of commodification.

You do it by having a unique position in the market with specific core competencies that you can combine with the core competencies of partners to reach new segments, grow your businesses, and do good work.

As an example, look at some of the stuff going on in Australia with year-round partnerships right now! Or, this example of what one club won’t do.

4. Sam Freeman does a nice job with a metaphor to describe segmentation for arts marketers:

I really like Sam’s use of the clementine metaphor to describe the segmentation of a market.

If you are looking for a visual representation of segmentation, a clementine is a pretty good way to think the visual.

Sam’s piece works through the lens of the need to market via email, but as he admits…some of the ideas that are floating around he doesn’t talk about them because he doesn’t know them well.

Let’s take a second to expand and simplify everything so that no matter where you are in the process of rethinking your marketing, you can get started on the right foot.

First, all the data you have right now may or may not be relevant. That’s the reality of the situation we are dealing with here. This means that BIG DATA may be able to take a break as the buzzword of the day! And, if you felt behind before, good news, no one knows anything right now because all of the data we are collecting isn’t going to reflect anything once the pandemic ends…so we are all starting over! YAY!

Second, when you approach segmentation, think about the entire market you serve. Not just the people you are currently reaching.

The first thing about segmentation is you want to do some market research. A few conversations with people, a small survey of folks, when the time is right a bit of ethnography.

Nothing too heavy, but you want to get an understanding of what folks are doing and who you are competing against.

Sam mentions different ways of segmentation and I’ll say it again, segment based on behavior, not something else. Follow what people do, not what they say or some other meaningless fragmentation.

From there you are going to break the market up into pieces because the behaviors are going to create clusters with similar attitudes and behaviors. Which you should create snappy names for.

As an example, one of the segment names I’m using this year is “Bull in a China shop” because these are big companies that their CEO doesn’t trust marketing, they have no strategy, they need to grow, and they don’t know where to start. So they are just swinging stuff all over the place with no rhyme or reason.

From there you should be able to use your research to quantify how much each segment is worth and look to see where one segment overlaps with another.

In a good segmentation the following things are going to be present:

  • Your entire potential market will be included.

  • Customers will only be able to fit into one segment.

  • They will be named based on behavior.

  • You’ll know from your research what the potential value of each segment is.

  • And, you’ll know that there are some dynamics that will allow you to target one segment but still reach additional segments.

How many should you have?

Your mileage may vary, but around 6-8 is where I end up most of the time.

From there you can target the juiciest segments and knowing who you are competing with, position against the competition!

Sam does a really nice job with some really good visuals and if you are working out of your own database and you have a large enough database to make it valuable, his example is very useful.

But if you don’t know where to start…just follow the basics I’ve laid out.

Better yet, take something from both of us!

5. The pandemic continues to mess with the business models of sports and entertainment…and it could get messy:

I’ve spent more time talking about finance than I really like to do. I’m a marketer by training and occupation, but you have to understand the money part.

CVC Capital is threatening to pull their deal with Serie A if it isn’t approved immediately.

This is after Ligue 1 has found themselves struggling because their deal with Mediapro fell apart when Mediapro and their financial backers didn’t meet their payment obligations.

I could go on because we are seeing many organizations look to private equity, loans, and other forms of capital to get them through the pandemic.

I wish I had some sort of pithy statement or observation that I could make that would help folks get everything pulled together ASAP. I don’t.

But I do have three things I can close out the week with here:

  • Now is a good time to make certain that you have created or are creating solid strategies for growing your audience. Audience development and market growth is the topic of an upcoming webinar I’m trying to put together with my colleagues in Australia.

  • As I’m fond of saying, an ultimatum means “no.”

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with your business models now. This may be the best time you’ll ever have to clear up some of the bad business practices, experiment with no ideas, or create unique partnerships. Just so you have some specific examples: here is what AC Milan is doing around Derby Day, here is David Lynam talking about work he did with clubs like Marine FC, and Angela Ruggiero talks about the need for sports to innovate with some examples from around the world.

If you have any questions or are struggling to figure out a way forward, a fresh set of eyes may be all you need and y’all know how to find me.

And, if we do a video call, I can show off my wall of books!


I’m still in DC! Ha! BTW, NYC was named the #1 sports city in the world again this week! True facts! London was second…so I’m sorted once this pandemic is over.

Check out my latest podcast with Greg Turner. We discuss how China is overcoming the pandemic, the differences in marketing and sales in China, and Austin Lee!

Greg says he really likes the mini-lessons on specific topics on strategy and marketing, what do y’all think?

Check out my buddies at Booking Protect. Now is a great time to add refund protection to your organization’s portfolio. Give their LinkedIn feed a check, lots of cool ideas, quotes, and information.

Go and catch what the folks at We Will Recover have put together. This is an idea from Einar and Martin and the Activity Stream team. Collecting ideas from over 20 organizations around the world to help you recover and reimagine your experiences going forward.